It’s been a series of unfortunate events for the DePaul Men’s basketball team to start the season. They have dealt with a series of cancellations and postponements making them the last team to play from a major conference. DePaul Blue Demons (1-0) defeat the Western Illinois Leathernecks (3-4), 91-72 at Wintrust Arena
DePaul was supposed to tip-off off their season back on November 25 but they had to postpone their season starting back on November 19th. From there it was a rollercoaster of waiting and getting their hopes up. They even made it up to Iowa State but had that game cancelled five minutes before game time. After the Butler game got postponed, Western Illinois stepped in and offered to play. This time around they finally got a game in.
The week started with some uncertainty surrounding Romeo Weems after The DePaulia’s Lawrence Kreymer reported that Weems went home over the weekend. At the start of Wednesday’s game, it was announced that Weems as well Jaylen Butz were not listed on the team roster. Also not available was Darius Hall. Both Hall and Weems were out due to COVID-19 protocols.
Three returning Blue Demons being out opened up opportunities for others and allowed them to get playing time. The first starting lineup of the Blue Demons season included Charlie Moore, Oscar Lopez, Ray Salnave, Javon Freeman-Liberty, and Nick Ongenda.
The game got rolling once Western Illinois’ Anthony Jones grabbed an offensive rebound on a Will Carius miss. Jones quickly put it up and got fouled by Nick Ongenda. Jones sink his two free throws to give the Leathernecks a 2-0 lead. It was their only lead of the night.
Blue Demons battled back and overtook them by going on an immediate 12-0 run. They shot 5-of-8 from the field and 2-of-3 in the process.
DePaul did turnover the ball early a bunch but found a way to cool down a bit. At the 5:46 mark, the Leatherneck did get within one score but DePaul would go another big run.
Not only did the Blue Demons have a 12 straight point run but also had a 15 straight point run in the first half. First half impression of the team: improved defensive, Javon Freeman-Liberty strong first impression, freshman Kobe Elvis isn’t afraid to shoot and as I said before Nick Ongenda will fill in nicely when Butz is not playing. DePaul lead 44 to 25 at the half.
Second half both team kicked it into high gears combining to score 94 points. Leatherneck shot much better in the second half but the Blue Demons opened the half just as aggressive. For the first 15 minutes of the DePaul made 15 of their 21 shots.
DePaul had five players in double scoring figures. Charlie Moore (Morgan Park) scored 22 points to lead the charge. Valparaiso transfer and Chicago native Javon Freeman-Liberty (Whitney Young) made his presence known, scoring 12 points in the first half. He finished with 19 points on 75 percent shooting, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, and three steals. Nick Ongenda filled in nicely with 12 points and six blocks. Also in double figures, Kobe Elvis with 12 points and Oscar Lopez with 11 points.
DePaul shot 59 percent from the field on 61 shots and 50 percent from three. DePaul also lead for 96.2 percent of the game.
Western Illinois struggled tonight as they shot just 38 percent from the field and were beat in almost every stat category. The only two stat categories they had the edge were turnovers and fouls. Despite having fewer turnovers and fouls it wasn’t enough to hold the Blue Demons off. The Leatherneck had four players in double figures. Will Carius and Tamell Pearson each put up 15 points while Anthony Jones had 13 and Justin Brookens had 10. Take away the first half and the game would be in a 47-47 tie with the Leatherneck shooting 50 percent on their final 36 shots.
DePaul gets three days off before their next game in Rhode Island against Providence. The game was rescheduled from December 17 and will now be played Sunday, December 25 at 3:30 PM CT.
Kobe Elvis looked comfortable shooting the ball in DePaul’s win over Western Illinois. He scored 12 points and filled out the rest of the stat line by getting two rebounds, four assists, and a steal in 27 minutes. He shot 5-of-8 from the field and 2-of-3 from three point range.